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EIRA Player of the Week - Justin Johnson

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EIRA Player of the Week - Justin Johnson

Johnson in training with Mira Costa. Gil Castro photo.

Mira Costa goes into the Southern California Varsity White final undefeated and, generally, unworried.

The Mustangs have won all of their games, most by wide margins, with a dynamic backline and a forward pack that does the job. Interestingly, with experience being so crucial in high school rugby, Costa has only one senior in their starting forward pack, and he is the subject of our piece today - Justin Johnson.

The Mira Costa lock forward does pretty much everything that is asked of him each week. He does the tough stuff, he wins ball, and above all, he leads. When Jonah Tavai had to vacate the No. 8 position, it was Johnson that Coach Duke Dulgarian looked to as the fill-in. A week later, when the team needed someone new at inside center, the lock forward was the guy there, too.

“Justin has played flanker, lock, and No. 8 this year as we have had to move him around to fill in for injured players,” said Dulgarian. “He is a very athletic forward and has the ability to play like a back.” 

He now only accepted the moves, he excelled.


“Our younger forwards are constantly looking to JJ for guidance,” said Dulgarian. “He is very patient with his teammates and he is extremely positive when working with his forward pack - Justin just is a fantastic teammate.”  

A leader by example, he has become more vocal this year and serves as almost an on-field coach. He is often included in coaches’ meetings on personnel and tactics.

“He is a student of the game as he watches a great deal of our game film and that of our opponents,” said Dulgarian. “Justin has worked extremely hard at improving his skills over the past year.  He has become a very formidable jumper in our lineouts and as a result we win a big majority of the lineouts.  

Johnson scored five tries this year, and at 6-2, 205 has the physical versatility to be a dangerous rugby player pretty much anywhere on the field. An A student he is planning on attending, and playing rugby at, Penn State next year.

But for now, maybe he can content himself with captaining Mira Costa in the SoCal Varsity White final this coming weekend, and being our Eagle Impact Rugby Academy Player of the Week.